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Six weeks fly by and it is time to return to rainy, grey Sheffield! We have had our fair share of storms whilst in Rocklands but towards the end it was really starting to heat up as their winter morphs into spring.

I love going home! I always do, wherever I have been and for however long when it is time to come home I am happy! Now that doesn’t reflect on how the trip was, it just means I am content being in Sheffield. The streets lined with red brick terraces, dark evenings sat by the fire, eating out in good restaurants and of course close to the Peak District for getting out on those gloomy frigid days in deepest, darkest winter. I might be painting a glum picture but this is what I love about home; things aren’t perfect and we always moan about it but at the end of the day it’s where we live and so it can’t be half bad!
Hang on let’s rewind, two paragraphs in and already I digress, not a great start. Where was I? Ah yes, Rocklands, well I was there but now I am home!

This was my second trip to the southern hemisphere; to the orange and black sandstone boulders of the Rocklands. We visited two summers ago and although I had grand plans to go and push myself and my grade I wasn’t fit or strong enough and so I settled for doing classic after classic. It was a perfect introduction to Rocklands as there are so many quality lines to be climbed. Towards the end of the trip I tried a few harder problems but I still wasn’t at the level where they were possible; however this gave me a great indicator for this trip as to how I was feeling when I could do moves that two years ago weren’t possible for me.

This time round Rocklands was going to be different, I was going to be fitter and stronger and more mentally ready than I had ever been. I was coming off the back of a three month trip to America followed by six months of training back in Sheffield. Things were going perfectly to plan when I didn’t listen to my body enough and developed a finger injury! A change in my training gave my finger the time to recover and proved to be the perfect formula for climbing in the Rocklands.

Leaving for Africa I wasn’t sure quite how I felt; my body felt strong, I was motivated and felt to be in a good place mentally but I knew my fingers weren’t as strong as they could be. Luckily this didn’t seem to be a problem! Predominantly the climbing in Rocklands is gymnastic and dynamic in nature, big moves between reasonable holds. Good power and power endurance is required as quite a few of the problems are over ten moves in length. Don’t get me wrong there are small holds to be had but I wasn’t searching them out!
Now here I could blab on about this and that problem but I am going to cut to the chase; I was bloody surprised at how well I actually climbed. Shock, horror I actually just praised my own climbing! While those that know me recover I will fill you in; I am not positive about my own climbing, I tell others to be confident and positive in their own abilities but like most people I am a hypocrite and very damning of my own abilities. I give myself a hard time if I am not living up to my expectations but in the case of this trip it was different. Now yes I did have times when I got frustrated, angry and disappointed in my performance; I did shout, swear and throw my shoes but not much!
So something I learnt this trip and it can be put into a formula for those of you who like that type of thing.
Hard, specific training=success, which=a positive, confident frame of mind, which=further success!
It’s a vicious cycle only not so vicious, more content in nature and so I dub it the ‘cycle of content’. Anyway enough philosophy and blowing my own trumpet; I was completely flabbergasted and overwhelmed by how I climbed and I know I won’t replicate this on every trip but wow it feels good to tick those climbs you really want to do. The ones that two years previously you couldn’t do a single move on or just didn’t have the gas to keep going.

I did struggle on certain climbs this trip, not everything went easily but I managed to dig deep and try really hard at the points I needed to. I also failed on things but that is ok as I will definitely be returning to Rocklands; hopefully even fitter and stronger to finish those off!
I am not going to give a step by step synopsis of the climbs I did and luckily I managed to capture quite a few on video. Most are the actual ascents but a few are pieced together because I forgot to press record at the appropriate time; so go make yourself a cup of tea and sit back and have a watch of some truly awe-inspiring boulders in a truly unique and wonderful place.

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